The right to counsel and Gideon’s Trumpet

right to counsel

Gideon’s Trumpet by Anthony Lewis

Right to counsel

These days, the right to counsel, and the right against self-incrimination are things we pretty much take for granted. it wasn’t always so. Gideon’s Trumpet is a book about a major legal case that was decided by the US Supreme Court in 1963. The case involved a man in Florida, Clarence Earl Gideon. A court in Florida refused to appoint legal counsel for Gideon, because Florida law at the time only allowed for court-appointed defense lawyers in capital cases. Gideon was convicted of burglary, and sentenced to five years. After submitting a hand-written petition to the US Supreme Court, that body took up his case. That resulted in a 9-0 SCOTUS decision in Gideon’s favor. He was retried and, with the help of counsel, was acquitted by a jury after an hour of deliberation.

In 1965, Author Anthony Lewis wrote a book about Gideon v. Wainwright, the case. The book became a TV-movie in 1980.


There was a time, right around when my younger sister was born, that we were “between houses.” My parents wanted to buy a lot and build a house, so they decided to sell our house, and we lived in an apartment complex for a while. One of the things that I liked about apartment living was the bookmobile. The library came to me rather than the other way around, so that was a fun thing.

One of my dad’s friends was a librarian and drove the bookmobile. While I picked stuff to read, Mr. Jim would regularly choose a book for me. He checked it out in my name, and put it in my hands, on top of anything else I’d picked. Gideon’s Trumpet was one of those books.

The book fascinated me. The legal principles weren’t all that hard for a fifth-grader to comprehend. Lewis presented the background of the story, offered an interesting portrait of Abe Fortas, the attorney appointed to represent Gideon before SCOTUS. (Fortas went on to become a Justice himself.) I love pomp and circumstance. Lewis’s descriptions of oral arguments before the court were fascinating. The decision was landmark.

All defendants have the right to counsel. It’s a Big Deal, and it resonated with ten-year old me. I watched all the cop and lawyer shows on the teevee. I went on to join the debate team in high school. The notion of going to law school crossed my mind.


I didn’t forget that concept. It’s one of those things that stuck with me, through the years, just like the times when a friend who is an attorney would point out that bail is not punishment. Bail backs up a promise to appear for trial.

Other than traffic tickets, I’ve been fortunate to have never needed defense counsel in a criminal proceeding. I’ve had friends, colleagues, and others in my life who have been in that position. When I taught high school, one of my students was accused of murder in Jefferson Parish. I was 23 at the time. The case sent me reeling. There wasn’t much I could do, as I wasn’t directly involved, yet it still tore at me. He had representation. Still, the case was very upsetting for me.

There have been other cases, other people, who weren’t so fortunate. The idea that capital cases happened where lawyers slept through trial, and their clients ended up executed was incredibly disturbing.

Every defendant should have competent defense, even if, no, especially if their crimes will put them on death row or they will face life imprisonment. I knew this when I was ten. Clarence Earl Gideon made that much of an impression on me.

Bypassing JFK and/or ATL on British Airways

Bypassing JFK and/or ATL on British Airways

British Ariways

A British Airways Boeing 777-300 is arriving at London Heathrow (LHR) (image courtesy Lasse Fuss)

British Airways to LHR

It’s been decades since any airline offered nonstop service from New Orleans to London. British Airways announced that direct service, MSY to LHR, is to start next spring:

The airline will provide year-round service to London’s Heathrow Airport starting March 27. The 10-hour flights will depart New Orleans on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 3:40 p.m. central time and arrive at 7:40 a.m. London time. Passengers will travel on a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, which holds 214 passengers: 154 in economy class, 25 in premium economy and 35 in business.

This is a big boost for Louis Armstrong International Airport. It means more jobs, as New Orleans becomes a point of entry from the UK. Passengers coming from Canada clear ICE before departure.

B787 Service

British Airways

All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner (courtesy Spaceaero2)

British Airways plans to operate Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” jets for their MSY-LHR service. The B787s replace the current BA fleet of B767s. The Dreamliner is a wide body jet, like the 767s and 777s. Thirty-five business class seats means a lot of potential for frequent flyer upgrades. I’m not sure if BA works their upgrades like Delta, but if you have status and you’re in a “premium economy” seat, you’ll be the first to get upgraded. It’s always a pleasant experience to arrive at the airport and find out you’ll be sitting up front.

Paying Customers

Getting an upgrade from coach to “up front” is nice, but it’s not what the airline wants. The airline wants paying customers in those thirty-five seats in business class. That’s why San Jose got BA service to LHR last year, instead of MSY:

The London flight is the culmination of several years of talks between British Airways and local business and tourism leaders. Last year, the airline chose to add a daily London flight to and from San Jose, Calif., instead of New Orleans, a blow to local lobbying efforts.

So, this is perfectly logical. Many of the Silly Valley companies allow their employees to book business class on flights more than eight hours. Those SJC-LHR flights no doubt are filled with full-fare passengers up front. Don’t rule out MSY as good business potential for British Airways, though. In these days of telecommuting, tech-industry employees can avoid the high cost of living in the bay area by living in a more appealing city like New Orleans.

Bottom Line to the Road Warrior

A nonstop from New Orleans to London is a long flight, about ten hours. Some travelers like the idea of getting comfortable, having dinner, then sleeping for eight hours or so, waking up at Heathrow. Others would rather fly the hour or so to ATL, or three hours to JFK, and have a shorter long haul flight across the ocean. Being able to clear ICE in New Orleans is a significant trade-off. It will be interesting to see if the flights increase in popularity, and more days are added to the schedule.

Oh, and if your return plans include staying at an airport hotel near Heathrow Terminal 5, be sure to check out the The White Horse, on Bath Road. It’s been around since 1601.

Orleans Parish Prison is not a place for teens

Orleans Parish Prison

Inmates exercising at Orleans Parish Prison (Bart Everson photo)


Suicide at Orleans Parish Prison

Seventeen-year old Dexter Allen is in the Jefferson Parish Correctional Facility in Gretna. In the city, the incredible mess that is Orleans Justice Center took another life. What makes this particularly sad is that this latest jail suicide was a juvenile.

Jaquin Thomas was pronounced dead at University Medical Center at 10:11 p.m., OPSO spokesman Philip Stelly said, after using a mattress cover to asphyxiate himself in his cell. The teenager had been jailed inside the Orleans Justice Center since his July 28 arrest on suspicion of second-degree murder and aggravated burglary, records show.

No Place for teenagers

Any suicide or attempt is a sad affair. Worse yet, locking up a teen in this prison is a terrible thing. Yes, he was charged with second-degree murder as an adult. That’s a serious situation. Jarvis DeBerry nails it, though, in his article on the suicide:

Jaquin was suspected of committing a crime more serious than Jerde’s, but if jail was considered inappropriate for the 21-year-old, it should have been considered the wrong place for the teenager. Charging a child as an adult does not magically transform him into an adult. It does not make that child any less vulnerable when thrown into a facility with people who are bigger, older and more hardened criminals.

Jailing teens in an adult prison is wrong. Still, it’s not a good idea to toss an alleged murderer into a juvenile facility. Teens accused of much more minor crimes are totally different. There has to be a way to balance this. Perhaps isolating serious juvenile offenders in one type of facility or the other.

Read the full article–Jarvis compares the situation Jaquin Thomas was in to that of a twenty-one-year old Tulane student. He demonstrates what #whiteprivilege gets you these days in New Orleans.


Dexter Allen’s Very Bad Day transforms him from thief to slave

By all accounts, Dexter Allen was a petty thief, prior to April 22, 2015. That was the day that things went very bad for him. His profession, if you will, was “door pulls” – popping the door handles on cars on the street. If a car was unlocked, Dexter would then jump in, removing any valuables he found. It’s not particularly easy work, since most folks lock their cars. The ones that don’t usually don’t leave much behind.

Dexter Allen: Simple Burglary to Murder

Dexter Allen and Haraquon Degruy

Dexter Allen and Haraquon Degruy (image courtesy WGNO-TV)

On the evening of 22-April of last year, Dexter got a surprise while he was rummaging through a white Toyota Highlander in the U9. The owner came back to the SUV, opened the door, and found Dexter in the driver’s seat. They claimed Dexter pulled out a pistol, took her keys, and drove off. He moved up in the world, advancing from petty thief to carjacker. That crime led to a string of burglaries and, before midnight, a double homicide that took the lives of my brother-in-law and nephew.

Dexter’s very bad day led to an even worse one for him on Monday, when he was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and twenty-one counts of burglary. His actions on the night of 22-April-2015 have led him to what likely will be a sentence of life in prison next month. The convictions were the climax of a 5-day trial before Judge Raymond Steib of the 24th Judicial District. I was there for most of it, and I come away with very mixed emotions.

Was justice served?

I feel confident that it was in the case of the State of Louisiana v Dexter Allen. Still, I was concerned. The murders of David and Nick Pence were high-profile. They are so for two main reasons: The victims were white and were killed in their home in the suburbs. This wasn’t a the-blacks-are-killing-each-other crime. It also wasn’t a if-you-go-into-new-orleans-you’ll-get-shot crime. New Orleans came to the Pence home, in the form of Dexter Allen and his girlfriend, Haraquon Degruy.

It was the sort of crime that lights up every local news outlet. It was also the sort of crime that the cops need to solve post-haste. The murders happened on a Wednesday night, and the Sheriff was standing before the press the following Sunday, telling the worried white people of East Jefferson that the case had been solved and arrests had been made. Part of me was relieved, but then, there was lingering doubt in the back of my mind. It wouldn’t be the first time a black man was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and a petty thief ends up doing time for a murder he didn’t commit.


I harbored that lingering doubt for a year and a half. As much as I wanted closure for my sister and my niece, along with Dave and Nick’s friends, it was important that the price would not be too high. Every bit of common sense I had told me the detectives of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office got the right guy. The JPSO crime scene technicians meticulously documented the scene and collected all the evidence. Fingerprint evidence from down the street put Haraquon Degruy in the neighborhood on the night of 22-April.

The detectives then engaged the services of the US Marshal’s Fugitive Recovery Task Force in New Orleans to pick the two suspects up. The arrests led to the recovery of numerous items stolen in “door-pull” burglaries on the night of 22-April-2015. They also recovered a CVS drugstore card my sister had in her purse.

Down to a plastic card

That plastic card was the link to the Pence home. Dexter saw Beth Pence’s purse on the counter in the kitchen, through the side door of the house. The state claimed that Dexter went in to do what he does, petty theft. He took the purse, but then found David asleep in his easy chair in the den. As ADA Rachel Africk said in her closing yesterday, she’ll never understand why Dexter had to kill Dave. Those shotgun blasts are why Nick came into the den from the living room (where he was playing a video game).

Dexter freaked out and then killed Nick as well. Fortunately for Beth, she didn’t come into the den from the bedroom right away; Dexter had already left the house, heading back to the SUV with Beth’s phone, iPad, and the purse with that CVS card.

The problem with all of this is that of all that stuff taken from the Pence home that night, all that showed up was the CVS card. No phone. The iPad was not recovered. No purse. Just a plastic card. Easy to drop one of those into the back of a seized vehicle.

Sure, the DNA evidence established that the odds the person who held the shotgun was not Dexter were one in one hundred billion. As JPSO’s DNA analyst said, the evidence doesn’t tell time, and nobody could say for a fact Dexter held that shotgun in the Pence home.

Circumstantial evidence

JPSO had the car. They had recorded video surveillance that put the car on Clifford Drive. License plate camera photos of the SUV leaving Metairie after the time of the murders existed. They had DNA from the shotgun. What ADAs Africk and Seth Shute didn’t have was direct evidence. Every piece of evidence in this case was circumstantial, and that presented a problem. If all the evidence is circumstantial, then the prosecution has to prove that no other possible theory for the crime is reasonable. It meant that defense counsel Jerome Matthews had the chance to put forward an alternate theory of the crime, in the hopes that he could sway three of the twelve jurors. (Louisiana only requires ten jurors out of twelve to vote to convict.)

ADAs Africk and Shute did their jobs. They laid down a tight timeline, from 2350 to 2356 on the night of 22-April-2015, walking the jury through those minutes. The entire trial was about laying down the foundation for their version of those six minutes. It worked; the guilty verdict was unanimous. Dexter Allen will now spend his life in prison.

No more doubt, but a lot of sadness

Hearing DA Africk’s closing and DA Shute’s rebuttal convinced me that they got it right. Mr. Matthews tried to poke holes in the prosecution’s timeline, but it was too short and tight. I’m glad Mr. Matthews did a good job of trying to sow seeds of doubt in the minds of the jury. I didn’t buy it, and neither did the jury, but it satisfied me that Dexter Allen got an adequate defense. I’m sad though, that now he’s going to be a plantation slave at Angola. I don’t know if there was any hope of rehabilitating Dexter, but that’s not going to happen in a Louisiana prison.

At least his next really bad day won’t involve taking other innocent lives.

NOTE: Opinions in this piece (and throughout this blog, in fact) are mine and mine alone. They do not reflect the opinions of other members of my family, or friends of the Pences. 


Putting down a Slave Revolt in Baton Rouge

How to stop a slave revolt

How to stop a slave revolt

Peaceful assembly happens every day in the United States, whether it’s you and your friends meeting for lunch. Maybe you’re gathering for Sunday services at your church. In Baton Rouge, it could be an LSU football game at Tiger Stadium. What you don’t see at those peaceful assemblies are police in armored suits that look ridiculous to even veterans of modern combat. The cops turned out to face black members of the community as if they were stopping a slave revolt.

What’s the difference? Your friends at lunch or your congregation at church aren’t considered a “threat”.Neither are the fans who gather on LSU’s campus for football games. What made protests over the weekend in Baton Rouge a “threat”?

BRPD knows better

BRPD and the EBR Sheriff’s Office understand crowd control. They participate in major crowd control exercises at those LSU games. Those crowds are quite different, in that they’re overwhelmingly white. What we saw in Baton Rouge wasn’t crowd control. It was the suppression of what BRPD perceived as a slave revolt. What happened in Dallas was the work of a madman. BRPD approached their city’s problems as white-cops-versus-unruly-blacks. They plead the excuse that the crowd was violent:

Baton Rouge’s display of military-grade equipment followed last week’s fatal shooting of Alton Sterling as two Baton Rouge police officers tried to arrest him. Protests there turned violent over the weekend; the Baton Rouge Police Department said that one officer’s teeth were knocked out and that a number of firearms were confiscated during one of the rallies

The Baton Rouge Police Department did. Did the protesters intend to be violent from the start? Would they have thrown objects at the cops had BRPD taken a less-aggressive stance? Did the cops need to turn against members of their own community? The catch is that BRPD doesn’t consider black folks part of the community. They saw this reaction to them committing homicide as a slave revolt.

The Washington Post runs down, and yet again, how the feds offer military surplus weapons and equipment at deeply-discounted prices to local police. BRPD clearly has taken advantage of these programs to produce their own little badly-trained militia.

BRPD could have handled this like Dallas did

Alton Sterling was killed by a BRPD officer. The department new there would be outrage in the community. Still, they decided to go to war in full military gear. This follows a pattern of racism and poor policing by the department over a period of years. Now that racism is stoked by an incredible amount of military-grade hardware, like we saw in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO:

One image from the weekend shows two Baton Rouge SWAT officers armed with semiautomatic carbines affixed with close-quarter optics. One officer has two 30-round magazines clipped together so that, if needed, he can reload faster. The officer is wearing a tactical-style, low-profile helmet with a night-vision boom attached — although it is missing the actual night-vision device.

Ridiculous. It’s clear that what happened in the Alton Sterling homicide was shoddy police work. Furthermore, their behavior is arguably criminal. From the beginning of the confrontation, all the way through terrible handling of witnesses and evidence after the cops killed Sterling. BRPD’s response to their own poor performance is to take the attitude that the blacks need to be put in their place.


Restaurants, Essence Festival, and #closedforessence

Essence Festival 2016

We had a great discussion about Essence Festival last year, how restaurants don’t do well during Essence, which is held annually over the Fourth of July weekend here in New Orleans. While I have no doubt that there are restaurants downtown and in Da Quarters that don’t want to serve a house full of black folks, there’s a lot more to the story than that.

Essence isn’t about dining, pubs, and clubs

This year, WalkOn’s is in the crosshairs. The pub, located on Poydras and S. Rampart, closed over the weekend, citing the need to do renovations. This caused a major social media backlash, prompting a lot of tweets using the hashtag #closedforessence. Brett Anderson’s article for Da Paper cites one commenter:

“I just put two and two together to decide that there was a racially motivated reason for their closing,” Devin Balance-Montrel said of Walk-On’s, which he called “racist” on Twitter. The 24-year-old African-American explained that he used to work in the French Quarter, at Montrel’s Bistro, a restaurant owned by family members that closed in 2013. “When other restaurants around us would close during Essence, they’d call it a ‘black out.’ They’d close because they didn’t want to deal with black customers.”

Mister Balance-Montrel would be dead wrong here. There a very important reason restaurants downtown close down for Essence weekend: Essence Fest goers don’t go out to eat in those restaurants when they come to town. For that matter, doesn’t


Think about this for a moment. Essence is about the music. Yes, there’s Rev Al and others at the workshops and panel discussions, but that’s not why folks come to down over the Fourth. They come for the music. They come for the music. And the music is in Da Dome. It’s not at Walk-On’s. It’s not at One Eyed Jacks. It’s in Da Dome. Rembert Browne’s 2012 article for the late-great Grantland is still the best review/description of Essence:

There were many acts at Essence, from the nostalgic (Dru Hill, Eve, Carl Thomas) to the rising stars (Melanie Fiona, Robert Glasper, Gary Clark Jr.). These acts, however, were held not on the main stage but in smaller venues within the Superdome. On that main stage each night were a series of acts with large followings, but they all concluded with two monster acts that could go toe-to-toe with any festival’s headliners.

Essence isn’t really a daytime thing

So, you wake up in your hotel room after a great experience in Da Dome the night before. You were in there until after 1am. You had to get back to your hotel, so assuming you didn’t hit a 24-hour place when you left, you didn’t get in bed until between 2am and 3am. It’s a safe assumption you weren’t at Ruby Slipper or Clover Grill at 8am.

Once you’re up and showered, it’s likely lunch time. You’ve got a couple of options, go explore some of New Orleans. A number of places recognize that Essence Festival folks are out and about in the afternoon, as Anderson notes:

Napoleon House routinely closed over the Fourth of July weekend dating back to the 1970s, although new owner Ralph Brennan changed the practice after he purchased the historic bar and restaurant last year.

So, there’s a crowd for lunch. Or is there? A lot of people hit the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, which is the hub of activity for the workshops, discussions, presentations, and general fan-fest-style activity during the day. If you opt for the Convention Center, you’re sucked into and controlled by Essence Festival. That’s not 450K fest-goers being shunned by restaurants who don’t want to serve black poeple, that’s black people simply not going out to eat.

Essence Festival is about Fashion!

The first acts every evening for Essence begin around 7pm. The lights don’t come on in Da Dome until after 1am, after those “monster acts” wrap. Essence-goers get to the dome between 5pm and somewhere during the first act. Now, consider your routine for going to a concert. Rembert got busted fashion-wise in 2012:

Paranoid motherly digressions and self-conscious age admissions aside, it was a joy being a part of this crowd. Even though I got a few strange looks the first day because I wore a tank top and shorts (Coachella attire) to the Superdome, once I had proven myself worthy by knowing words to songs I shouldn’t know the words to, I felt as if I had been pardoned and was allowed to stay with the party people.

It takes time to get ready

Now it’s 3pm-4pm, and your wife is telling you it’s time to get back to the hotel. Fashion takes time. Essence tends to be an older crowd, and everyone’s on vacation, so nobody’s running back to the hotel. Now it’s 5pm or so. The restaurants would be starting happy hour or early-bird specials. Is anyone there? Nope. The Fashion Gods must be appeased.

Now it’s 6:30pm-7:30pm. The first acts are on stage as folks stream into Da Dome. Does anyone have a 7pm dinner reservation? Not. A. Chance. We’re talking about a concert in Da Dome here, one with a packed house. You can’t just show up at 10pm and expect to actually see. Experienced Essence-goers know this and plan accordingly. Do those plans include pre-gaming at Walk-On’s? Doubtful.

The bottom line on Essence Festival is simple: everyone needs to settle down their knee-jerk reactions and realize how a big evening event works. They just don’t include dinner at a restaurant.

Insight into the NRA’s support of Republicans

1024px-National_Rifle_Association.svg - NRA logo

The National Rifle Association as mainstream GOP PAC

Democrats see the NRA as the face of the gun lobby. It’s an accurate, but incomplete view. Digby points out that the relationship between the NRA and the Republican Party is so much more. Not only that, but the pair have a long history. Two elections in the 1990s illustrate how the pairing works. In 1992, when the NRA helped go after Oklahoma Congressman Mike Synar:

This lesson came about from a previous Oklahoma race in 1992 when they became involved in the race against Rep. Mike Synar, a very outspoken liberal Democrat and enemy of the NRA and other GOP-affiliated special interests.They worked with other organizations to run ads against him about flag burning and other issues but also ran against him on guns. It backfired on them when Synar fought back against the NRA as an extremist organization and won. They came after his again in 1994 by recruiting a Democratic primary opponent and helping him win with a whisper campaign that said Synar supported the banning of hunting rifles. A Synar aid is quoted in the piece saying “They were smart. It was like boxing ghosts.” That primary election was an earthquake that foreshadowed the electoral rout that was to follow in the fall.

The NRA vs. Dave McCurdy

The OK GOP, with the help of a lot of NRA cash, chipped away at Synar’s credibility in 1992, and defeated him in 1994. The NRA then threw money at the Republican in the general, Tom Coburn. Coburn spent ten years in the House, moving to the Senate in 2005. In the 1994 OK Senate race, the NRA directed some of the $70 million they spent nationwide in an effort to oust Senator Dave McCurdy. The GOP/NRA didn’t go after McCurdy on guns, but rather by calling him a “Clinton clone”.

This hasn’t stopped for over twenty years. Remember this when your Fox News-watching aunt tells you that the NRA is all about “gun safety” and “Second Amendment rights”.




Sports by the numbers – FiveThirtyEight

Sports by the numbers – FiveThirtyEight

fivethirtyeight hot takedown and Sports – a great combination

I don’t write about sports a lot here, unless there’s an alternate angle. Here’s the angle for today: The NFL doesn’t hold my interest all that much. Basketball? Pelicans! #TakeFlight! However, I can’t keep up with my sons on the NBA. Baseball? I’m a Giants fan, and I support the New Orleans Zephyrs, but I don’t wear support for either on my sleeve. I keep my passion for La Joga Bonita, specifically for the US Men’s National Team and the USWNT, the New Orleans Jesters, and Arsenal Football Club on the Book of Zucker and YatSoccer. So, no angle, talk to me about football on YatSoccer.

The “Hot Takedown” podcast fascinates me. A lot of the data-driven work that Silver and his elves do had its origins with sport. That’s reflected by the fact that they dumped the New York Times and are now affiliated with ESPN. Go to the ep titled, “What Pat Summitt Did For The Game Of Basketball“. Go in to about 31 minutes. When they start talking about Durant, the numbers hit me. Here’s Durant, done with his contract with OKC, looking to go to a winner.

The NBA, Kevin Durant, and Championships

kevin durant 2014

Kevin Durant (courtesy Keith Allison)

There’s a lot of psychology involved in such a decision by a professional athlete. What I loved here was the discussion here about whether this type of personal decision actually works. What percentage of players who leave their current team for a “championship-level” team actually get there? There’s a distinction here between the player getting paid a bunch of money to build a championship team and the player looking to join a team to get a ring. Durant isn’t a Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James, whose expectations are to be the focal point of a winner. Well, maybe Durant is ‘Melo, actually, given that Anthony hasn’t been able to make the magic happen in New York. In addition, there’s factors like a player’s age and physical condition.

Then there was the discussion about why aren’t players like Durant looking to go to the NBA East if they want to be a champion, but that’s a different discussion. Suffice to say, “Hot Takedown” is a good listen.

AG Jeff Landry knows what’s best for New Orleans

AG Jeff Landry knows what’s best for New Orleans

jeff landry

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R-Tea Party)

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R-Tea Party) wants to help New Orleans:

This weekend – 50 two-person teams comprised of special agents at the LBI, St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office, and Hammond Police Department will patrol the outskirts of the French Quarter and the Central Business District. Moving forward – specials agents from the LBI are expected to team with task force members from the Sheriff’s Offices in Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John, and St. Tammany and the Hammond Police Department.

I’m pretty much struggling to understand what white-collar-crime investigators from the AG’s office are going to do to help with the crime situation. Landry’s word is “visibility”, but simply being visible isn’t all that much of a help. Now, if these folks are real investigators, isn’t there, some, you know, investigating they could be doing? According to Landry’s website, the Criminal Investigation Division of the Louisiana Bureau of Investigation of the Louisiana State Police (how’s that for a mouthful?) has three field offices in the state, in Baton Rouge, Breaux Bridge, and Alexandria. None of these people are based in New Orleans. That makes me wonder about another of Landry’s statements:

“By reallocating time, this new effort will not cost the City or the State anything new; but it will support and assist the NOPD, State Police, and FBI here,” added General Landry. “If we are to bring an end to the smear of crime, fraud, and corruption that tarnishes our great State’s reputation and affects the quality of life of all in Louisiana – law enforcement must work together.”

Not true, General Landry. If these investigators don’t live in New Orleans, someone has to cover their expenses. That’s a bit more than “anything new”. If Landry plans for this task force to run “perpetually”, does that mean he’s permanently pulling these LBI folks from the three cities where they’re based now? Were their tasks in those offices so unimportant he can just uproot them?

Still, those of us in the New Orleans metro area should be thankful for this increased visibility of cops, right?

Not so fast. Support from the Tea Party always comes with a hidden agenda. The Advocate offers some insight in their coverage of this task force:

Landry clashed with Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration this spring when he championed a push for state legislation that would have allowed him to label New Orleans a “sanctuary city” because of local limits on police collaboration with federal immigration officials. The effort, which would have allowed Landry to strip state bond money from the city, failed.

General Jeff Landry doesn’t like how the city handles immigration? Imagine that. Clearly he doesn’t like how NOPD does things to the point where he’s dropping his cops into the city. It’s curious that he’s decided to do this over the Fourth of July weekend, for Essence Festival. It’s the weekend with the biggest influx of African-American visitors to the city.

If Jeff Landry wants to help lower crime in New Orleans, he should deploy LBI to augment NOPD detectives, assisting with clearing violent crime cases, arresting the offenders, and breaking up organized criminal activity. Dropping a bunch of state cops in the CBD is only good to show the white people in suburbia and outside the city that you’re doing something in their eyes.



Louisiana is an Obamacare state!

Louisiana is an Obamacare state!

Obamacare from JBE

It’s going to take years to put out the dumpster fire that Jindal left behind, but fully implementing Obamacare is a good start:


“Expanding Medicaid in Louisiana was the easiest decision I’ve made since taking office in January, and I meet people from all walks of lifewho will be positively impacted by expansion,” said Gov. Edwards. “All the research shows that people with insurance coverage, including Medicaid, fare much better than those who are uninsured. Although my goal was to take immediate steps to get people health coverage, the more important goal is for people to have better health. Coverage is the important first step, and in the process, we are saving Louisiana taxpayers more than $180 million in this year alone.”

Accepting the Medicaid expansion and committing to fund programs that extend proper healthcare to everyone are essential. They’re compassionate. They’re the right feckin thing to do. When I travel to Europe, one of the common questions I’ll get asked is “Why don’t you Americans want to care for your sick?” I now tell them about my State Senator from #themetrys, Conrad Appel. Appel is currently my number-one “malaka”, as Adrastos affectionally refers to incredibly terrible people. Conrad here believes giving black people health care is a “luxury” that Louisiana taxpayers can’t afford. Such a shitty human being.

For all that John Bel Edwards is not a liberal, he is compassionate. There was a friend-of-a-friend comment on Lamar White’s Zuckerbook page where a #nonpartisanprogressive went on a rant about how un-progressive JBE is. Given that Lamar thinks rather highly of this individual, I was a bit confused. Nobody in Louisiana ever thought Governor Edwards was progressive. He’s a ConservaDem, and that’s not a bad thing. The Democratic Party is indeed the big tent, and JBE is an excellent example of how that works. Don’t like his position on abortion? Fine, work to re-establish the party outside of Orleans Parish and let’s elect more progressive Dems.

In the meantime, the poor get Obamacare. Go JBE!

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